Running A Go Route: Five Receivers Poised to Break Out This Season
Besides the offensive line, who makes a quarterback look good?
The wide receiver.
Every team can boast they have at least one dependable pass catcher (well, almost), and having at least that one can mean the difference between a first down or a sack. Every passing game needs a go-to guy.
What every go-to guy would like to have is a complementary partner in crime or two. Some you expect to produce (Chad Ochocinco), and some just cannot cut the mustard.
And then of course, are your eye-opening break out performers. It could be the rookie breaking his first camp, or the role playing third or fourth option that finally gets his act together on the field.
Every year, there are a handful that fulfill that breakout role, and these five are primed to make secondaries look silly this season.
Devin Aromashodu—Chicago Bears
The Auburn alum handled his business when he finally saw action during the last month of the 2009 season.
He had 22 of his 24 catches for a shade under 300 yards for a team whose receiving core is weak. Bears QB Jay Cutler identified "Aroma" during the 2009 preseason as a guy he had made a connection with. In true Bear fashion, the coaching staff ignored Cutler's comment and kept Aromashodu off the field.
With offensive coordinator Mike Martz coming to town and building a good relationship with Cutler, Aromashodu could explode after being a waiver wire player for the better portion of his four year career.
Chaz Schilens—Oakland Raiders
Schilens was set to be the number one receiver for a young group before breaking his foot, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.
He is healthy, and has a quarterback who can throw, and is not named JaMarcus Russell. If the Oakland offense can click in an open AFC West, look for Schilens to have a big impact in the air raid.
Mike Wallace—Pittsburgh Steelers
Wallace led the NFL in yards per catch average with a 19.4 clip. Add into that an opening in the starting roster with the trade of Santonio Holmes, and you have Hines Ward's ying to his yang.
Not having Ben Roethlisberger probably hurts his growth, and his route running is still suspect.
Depending on the game, Wallace could see extra coverage as teams test Ward's abilities in his aging body. Wallace's speed and size (200 lbs) give him a good blend that could still trouble defenders.
Devin Thomas—Washington Redskins
Same old story: Washington has a promising group of young receivers.
Despite its truth, Devin Thomas appears ready to separate himself from that stigma. Thomas finished the season strong in 2009, gaining over 200 yards and having a 100 yard receiving game against the New Orleans Saints.
While his inconsistencies have been accentuated, he never had a proven passer to get him the ball in a football market no less than brutal on poor performers. Donovan McNabb should bring a new element to the Redskins' offense that Jason Campbell could not.
Playing opposite Santana Moss should help Thomas' growth lead to respectable or above average numbers in 2010.
Malcolm Floyd—San Diego Chargers
Christmas came early for the young receiver in San Diego.
With Vincent Jackson potentially sitting out 10 games because of contract issues, Floyd has become the de facto number one receiver for Philip Rivers in San Diego.
With Antonio Gates getting a bulk of the looks, and V-Jax getting the majority of the rest, Floyd only caught more than four passes once last season.
Throw that away, and think about this. Jackson averaged a shade over 11 yards per target last season. Floyd's was 10.5 per catch.
Add a ridiculous wingspan, and you have a good young receiver breaking out with one of the best QBs in the game chucking pigskin at him.
Photo: San Diego Chargers